Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Weeds, Words & Work

W is for Weeds

It's springtime, and that means (if you live anywhere blessed by winter weather) time for the green, and the birds, and the tulips to return.  The earth is shedding its solemn white and brown winter coat and donning a wardrobe of color.

If you have a yard, spring also means time to head outside and prepare the garden for another planting season.

There is nothing like a garden - whether it grows flowers or vegetables.  And yet every garden, regardless of size or location, is prone to the same unchanging problem: weeds.

They are hardy, prickly, aggressive and unrelenting.  If you're not careful, they'll replace your growing plants with something much less desirable.  They wipe out everything in their path, and then continue on their conquest to the neighbors' yards.

And we've all had those neighbors - the one's with weeds waist high that seed and blow around on the wind - the one's who just don't seem to care.

So how does one get rid of weeds?  There are a few different options:
  1. Go to the store and buy weed killer (the trouble with this is it kills the good plants too)
  2. Hire a professional to do it for you  (the trouble with this is it costs money)
  3. Ignore them (the trouble with this is it frustrates the neighbors)
  4. Roll up your sleeves, put on some gloves, and get to pull them yourself (the trouble with this is it's work)
Ultimately, the how of de-weeding is up to the individual gardener, but the old advice of putting some effort into a task can produce real results - especially if you can get the weed out by the root.  It may take work, it may take effort, but the weed free garden that results is worth it.  And working in the dirt is very healthy, and can be satisfying.

W is for Words

It's revision time, and that means you've experienced the satisfaction of finishing the first draft or a WIP.  You've come down from the euphoria of accomplishing a difficult feat and are ready to dig in again.

There is nothing like seeing your words come to life - the characters, the plot, the scenes that you love spilling over the pages (or screen).  And yet every manuscript, regardless of length or author experience/expertise is prone to the same unchanging problem: errors.

They are frequent, difficult to spot, and sometimes embarrassing.  If you want to be considered seriously by an agent or editor, or you are self-published and want your work to be credible to your reading audience, you have to find and eradicate them.

And we've all read those books - the ones with errors on every page or huge factual discrepancies, that we want to throw across the room and yell "Agggh!"

So how does one get rid of errors?  There are a few different options:
  1. Click on the spellchecker button in your writing software. (the trouble with this is it doesn't catch everything)
  2. Rely on your critique partners to find errors for you (the trouble with this is they will still always miss some)
  3. Ignore them (the trouble with this is it frustrates your readers - and kills your credibility)
  4. Roll up your sleeves, research good editing skills and practices, and get to work.  This involves invoking options #1 and #2 (option #3 is still a really bad idea!)
With weeds and words, putting the time and effort into a garden or a manuscript is work.  But with weeds and words, work put forth can actually become something beautiful - opportunity and success.

So fellow writers - go pull out your gardening tools, and get to work!

Thought I'd leave you with this little thought:  How do you tell the difference between a vegetable and a weed?  Give it a pull - if it comes out easy, it's a vegetable!

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